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Flash Fridays – The Flash Spectacular 1978

posted on September 11, 2020

DC Comics did quite a bit of flailing around at this time trying to find price points that not only worked for them but also for their readers. Hoping that their readers would plunk down a dollar for a comic book was a big ask. To justify that cost they decided to (with apologies to Donna Summer) work hard for the money. First, you got 80 pages of new work. In order to pull that off, that recruited some big names from among earlier Flash artists and beyond. They included in no particular pecking order: Jose Garcia Lopez, Irv Novick, Joe Giella, Wally Wood, Kurt Schaffenberger and Murphy Anderson, with the writing chores ably handled by the then current Flash scripture, Cary Bates. So right away, there was a lot to like. The art is simply wonderful.

The framing sequence involved the gorilla Grodd, which then, as the cover suggests, segued into individual stories involving Kid Flash, and the Flashes from Earths One and Two, with Johnny Quick thrown into the Earth Two Flash tale. We begin by seeing the execution of Grodd in Gorilla City. (A digression if I may. During the DC explosion/implosion there was a book prepared called Gorilla City of which I’ve only seen tantalizing snatches. I would have traded any number of my Silver Age comic books for a copy of that book. End digression). The individual stories all centered around each speedster having to attain a certain velocity to solve their particular predicament. Grodd’s atoms were scattered in another dimension and to bring himself back, he needed certain escape velocities of the combined speedsters to pull it off… which he does. He comes back better than ever and is only defeated in the end by the three Flashes and Johnny Quick combining briefly into a single speedster to do him in.

So, in the end, Grodd died but he got better. No change there. However, along the way Bates does something kind of stunning. He has Kid Flash reveal his secret identity to his parents, Jay Garrick reveal his secret identity to all of Earth Two, and on the final page Wally announces to Barry that his graduation from college will mark his last day as Kid Flash. That’s a lot of change for one book and it will be interesting to see how it plays out. All in all, not a bad return for a dollar.